Art Fairs as a destination

 

Sometimes you get lucky when traveling and come across a fun place to stop, and even shop. Such is Ann Arbor, MI which merits a drive for its triple art fairs but combined under the name Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 18-20, 2024.

They are three separate non-profit fairs that fill the streets from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. that Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. 

Drawing about half a million visitors, they combine to be the country’s largest juried art showing of works by about 1,000 artists and cover about 30 city blocks, so wear comfortable shoes.

Where to take a break: Zingerman’s Deli which has a barrel of the old fashion kind of pickles and yummy corned beef. For more art fiar info click on Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, The Guild’s Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and Ann Arbor State Street District Art Fair.

For places to stay and other places to eat visit Destination Ann Arbor | Visit Ann Arbor, MI.

booth at Port Clinton Art Festival (J Jacobs photo)
Booth at Port Clinton Art Festival (J Jacobs photo)

Another good art fair destination is the Port Clinton Art Festival in downtown Highland Park, IL, Aug 24-25, 2024. It is a third smaller than the triple AA Fair at nearly 300 booths, but the fair is also juried and ranked among the best in the country.

For a break look for That Little French Guy Patisserie on St. Johns Ave. across from the Metra train station. Everything is good here so take something to go along with the art.

Art on the Door

 

View from Peninsula State Park (JJacobs photo)
View from Peninsula State Park (J Jacobs photo)

You may be driving up to Door County, WI, a north-easterly finger jutting out into the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, to vacation in charming seaside villages with good shopping, casual eateries, relaxing scenery and outdoor fun such as sailing, golfing, hiking and biking.

However, once you get there you realize after passing several galleries, art studios and numerous potters that Door County is also an art colony.

You can take art classes or try your hand at creating jewelry, glass-like sculpture and ceramics and also visit artists in their studios.

Plus, you should have no trouble finding paintings, pottery, jewelry and glass pieces to take home or give as holiday presents.

Even if you are going to spend most of the vacation exploring, relaxing or playing, you are likely to stop at a gallery.

So, first stop should be the Visitors Center, (Destination Door County) 1015 Green Bay Road, in Sturgeon Bay. It’s on your right before you reach the canal bridge and cross onto the main vacation part of the peninsula.

Pick up the “arts guidebook” (Not in caps) which has an excellent map (but you can also get a larger map at the Center.

Door County Coffee and Teas (J Jacobs photo)
Door County Coffee and Teas (J Jacobs photo)

If you are not staying in Sturgeon Bay you might want to take a latte break at Door County Coffee and Teas, 5773 Hwy 42, Sturgeon Bay (actually Carlsville) before continuing on the peninsula so you can look through the arts guide before checking in to your condo or inn.

Door County Coffee and Teas is where many folks stop when they get to the Door and then when they leave it.

You won’t get to all the places listed in the book. Really.

Here are some favorites:

Plumb Bottom Gallery, Plum Bottom Gallery

4999 Plumb Bottom Rd., Egg Harbor. It’s potter Chad Luberger’s first place and now he and wife, jewelry maker Angerla Olson Luberger, have four galleries.

 

Hands On studio (J Jacobs photo
Hands On studio (J Jacobs photo

Take a look at the studios on the grounds of Hands On Art Studio, 3655 Peninsula Players Rd, Fish Creek. If you like what you see schedule a time to return and create. I made a piece similar to these which look very much like what I saw later at the Art Institute of Chicago store but anyone could do it.

Edgewood Orchard Galleries

Edgewood Orchard Home – Edgewood Orchard Galleries, 4140 Peninsula Players Rd. Fish Creek. Best if you wore walking shoes because many of the sculptures are on paths through the trees. Leave time to visit the two floors of the main gallery.

Fine Line Designs Gallery and Sculpture Gardens 

Fineline Designs Gallery. 10376 Hwy 42, Sister Bay (actually at Ephraim’s north end). Good gallery but also found fun outdoor items to bring home.

Ellison Bay Pottery

ellisonbaypotterystudios.com  12156 Garrett Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI Longtime Door County potter. Call to check hours (920) 854-5049.

While at Ellison Bay Pottery follow the signs to The Clearing, a folk school at 12171 Garret Bay Rd.  The Clearing | The Clearing Folk School. The building and grounds are worth a stop but also ask for the classes and programs brochure. 

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Why visit Chicago this summer or fall

The 'Bean' in Millennium Park. (J Jacobs photo)
The ‘Bean’ in Millennium Park. (J Jacobs photo)

Music floats on summer breezes in southeastern Highland Park, a suburb in Lake County, IL north of Chicago and on the North Metra train line. That is where you will find Ravinia Festival, summer host of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and dozens of concerts from classical and folk to pop and jazz.

But if summer won’t work plan to go this fall when “Hamilton” returns in mid-September. See more schedule info at Chicago Theater and Arts.

Either way, summer and fall are good times to yell and gobble hotdogs and cheesy fries or nachos at Wrigley field for a Cubs game or at Guaranteed Rate Field for a White Sox game.

Chicago’s museums also are interesting destinations this year.

The Art Institute of Chicago is holding a blockbuster van Gogh exhibit. called “Van Gogh and the Avant Garde: The Modern Landscape,” it runs May 14 to September 4.  If you are driving, Route 66 actually starts on the south side of the museum but the sign for it faces the Art Institute across Michigan Avenue. AIC is at 111 S. Michigan Avenue.

With the recent change of England’s royal family, now is perfect to see “First Kings of Europe at the Field Museum. It’s 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive on the city’s Museum Campus with the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium.

BTW, Lake Shore Drive is now called Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive to honor its first non-native settler.

Three must stops:

The Chicago Cultural Center, covering a Michigan Avenue block from Randolph to Washington Street, was once the city’s main library and called the “People’s Palace.” its marble staircase and mosaic walls at the Washington Street entrance and cultural information room at the Randolph Street entrance, plus art exhibits on almost every floor are all worth stopping time.

Millenium Park sits across Michigan Avenue from the Cultural Center. This is where you find the city’s famed Bean., also called Cloud Gate, the Pritzker Pavillion/lawn with Frank Gehry’s sculptural bandshell and the Crown Fountain of Jaume Plensa’s interactive, “spitting” water. There is also a stairway to an upper floor of the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.

The location of the Chicago Architecture Center on the Chicago River just south of Michigan Avenue is great for taking its famous river boat tour. but it is also a building to visit for a build-out of the Chicago Fire and the upstairs exhibits.

Tip: Don’t try to do everything in one or two days.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial week escapes one day drive away

Door county, WI is all about wate. (J Jacobs photos)
Door county, WI is all about wate. (J Jacobs photos)

Memorial Day signals summer even if just for the long weekend or for a whole week if school is already out. But that vacation should be in the planning stage now to get the accommodations and restaurants wanted. (Note: If going before Memorial Day check hours. Some shops, galleries, restaurants are only open Thursday through Sunday)

With gas prices looking more and more like highway robbery a one-day drive there may better budget cents.  (Note: If going before Memorial Day check hours. Some shops, galleries, restaurants are only open Thursday through Sunday)

Here are three destinations, each within a different state, that are an easy day’s drive from Chicago. They all have historic roots. First is a Wisconsin peninsula that is basically an island with several small villages. Second is a Michigan town paired with two good neighbors. Third is a historic Illinois town near the Mississippi River.

Door County, WI

A finger separating the calmer waters of Green Bay from the often more turbulent waves of Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin peninsula home to Door County draws vacationers looking for relaxing seascapes, fine art and pottery galleries, delicious food, trails to bike and hike and lighthouses.

Visit a lighthouse in Door County (Phot by Jodie Jacobs
Visit a lighthouse in Door County (Photo by Jodie Jacobs)

Although The Door, as it is often called, begins halfway up the peninsula south of Brussels for drivers taking Hwy 57, the tourist destination starts further north across a bridge at Sturgeon Bay that is about a four-hour, fifteen-minute drive from Chicago.

Stop before crossing the bridge to get a map, dining and gallery brochures and expert information at the Visitor Center, 1015 Green Bay Road, Sturgeon Bay.

Best plan is to make accommodation reservations before leaving home. Destination Door County/Stay lists inns, B and Bs, cabins, guest houses, motels, resorts and condos.

You might want a place near the center of The Door in Ephraim such as the Eagle Harbor Inn or a place with water views such as Harbor House in Fish Creek or the Yacht Club in Sister Bay or a place known for its good breakfast such as the Church Hill Inn.

Settle in, check the map you now have to see all the towns and crossroads from bay side to lake side and figure what kind of food you want that first night, casual, pizza, fine dining or one of The Door’s noted “fish boil.” experience.

More than one restaurant does an excellent fish boil. The historic White Gull Inn in Fish Creek is among the most popular. Fish boils are fun to watch but you have to like white fish to eat the dish and not worry about bones (for most of them).

When in the mood for home-made root beer, a hamburger and a picture-worthy sundae, stop at historic Wilson’s, a local ice cream parlor in Ephraim.

Door County is fruit country, particularly cherries, so be sure to pick up a cherry pie, chocolate covered cherries and a selection of preserves while there or before you leave. Couple of suggestions: Schartner’s Farm Market on Hwy42 south of Egg Harbor and Seaquist Orchards, north on Hwy 42 past Sister Bay have yummy products.

Other items to bring back are a painting and pottery. Door County is home to several artists and artisans. Also, indulge your inner artist at Hands On Art Studio on Peninsula Players Road in Fish Creek. A complex of small buildings, Hands On has the tools, materials and experts to help with ceramics or create a glass, clay, mosaic or jewelry item.

Or stop in any way to see what is there and then go up Peninsula Players Road to Edgewood Orchard Galleries to walk its sculpture trail.

BTW, bringing back food and art is part of a driving trip vacation.

 

Dune climbing is part of the Saugatuck, MI experience ( J jacobs photo)
Dune climbing is part of the Saugatuck, MI experience ( J Jacobs photo)

Saugatuck/Douglas MI

At about 139 miles from Chicago, Saugatuck, its twin town of Douglas and neighboring town of Fennville are an easy two-hour, 14-minute drive north on Interstate 196.

Saugatuck is on the north side of the Kalamazoo River with Douglas across the way on the river’s south side.. Fenville is south and slightly east of Douglas. They all have attractive stops when on a driving trip to what is known as Michigan’s Art Coast.

Gallery hopping is as much an attraction and pursuit as climbing the area’s dunes and dune riding. A popular art stop is the J. Petter Galleries on the Blue coast Hwy in Douglas just before crossing the bridge and turning into Saugatuck.

Artists have been coming here for at least 100 years when the Art Institute of Chicago opened Ox-Bow School. The school still has workshops and classes and the Art Barn in Fennville has drop-in times for anyone interested in creating something.

Cross the Kalamazoo River on the Saugatuck Chain Ferry (J Jacobs photo)
Cross the Kalamazoo River on the Saugatuck Chain Ferry (J Jacobs photo)

Inns and B and B’s on the lake, across from the river and near downtown  Saugatuck offer comfortable rooms, friendly hosts and in many cases, breakfasts.

Walk along the river in Saugatuck but for something different take the Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the river then climb Mt. Baldy dune’s 302 steps for great views of the surrounding area.

For a back-in-time break stop in the Saugatuck Drug Store & Soda Fountain for a root beer float.

When not checking out the shops downtown Saugatuck, fit in a visit to the Saugatuck Brewery and browse the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion, both on the Blue Star Hwy in Douglas.

Slightly further out in Fennville take refreshing breaks at the Fenn Valley Vineyards and Virtue Cider, both a few minutes away in Fennville.

Both have products you take home to enjoy while looking over and emailing photos of the Saugatuck area.

 

Kandy Kitchen and other fun Main Street shops and historic structures draw vacationers to Galena. (J Jacobs photo)
Kandy Kitchen and other fun Main Street shops and historic structures draw vacationers to Galena. (J Jacobs photo)

Galena, IL

Galena, IL a 19th century former lead mining town and once popular 1850s  political stop for both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, the town rises on hills above the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois.

The area’s fall color is enough to make Galena a seasonal destination but many vacationers come in winter to ski or summer for fun shopping in a historic town. About 800 buildings, comprising 85 percent of the downtown and surrounding area, make up a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Among them is the home of Ulysses S. Grant where he was living when he heard he was elected the 18th President of the United States, and the Desota House Hotel where Lincoln spoke in 1856 for John Fremont’s bid for the presidency.

Along with Desota House, there are several B and B’s. If looking for luxury consider the Select Registry inns of Goldmoor and Jail Hill  (really). For hiking, biking, golf and spa look just outside of Galena’s downtown at Eagle Ridge.

After checking in or dropping off overnight bags, start the visit at the Galena Country Visitor Center. Located in a former train depot near the Grant house, it is on the south side of the Galena River across old rail tracks at 101 Bouthiller St.

Historic Galena nestles into hillsides above the Mississippi River. J Jacobs photo)
Historic Galena nestles into hillsides above the Mississippi River. J Jacobs photo)

Ask for a map of the downtown and area and get ready to shop and explore..\

Galena has lots of restaurants but the one that needs a reservation more than others is Fried Green Tomatoes. So, make you dining reservation before you arrive in town.

Vising Galena is about walking tits historic downtown and popping into clever, yummy and interesting shops such as Kandy Kitchen, Chocolat ,  Bread & Vine, a patisserie with good macarons, desserts and yummy sandwiches and American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, the shop many folks crowd into first.

But don’t forget to cross the street and head up towards the highway and beginning of the shopping area for a true treasure store called Red’s Iron Yard and Wholesale Barn .  Indulge in your inner farmyard, antique shopping persona. After all, driving here means room in the car for collectibles.

One more tip: check the department of transportation website whichever state and trip you choose to find out about construction.

Happy and safe travels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie backdrops fill Boca Raton Museum

 

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Singing in the Rain backdrop scene. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Musuem)
Singing in the Rain backdrop scene. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Musuem)

Imagine taking a selfie against the scenery in “American in Paris,” Singing in the Rain,” “North by Northwest” or “Sound of Music.”

The Boca Raton Museum of Art is making these movie moments possible with its new exhibit, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop.

Second in a travel series that makes art destinations the reason to go, the Boca Raton exhibit is an amazing, immersive experience.

Opening April 20, 2022 and continuing through Jan. 23, 2023, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop brings 22 large-scale scenic backdrops made for the movies between 1938 and 1967 to South Florida so what has pretty-much become a lost art can be enjoyed and their artists, appreciated.

After attempting a selfie, visitors will see and understand that backdrops were created for the camera view of a scene.

To achieve an immersive ambiance that recaptures the classic scenes for the show, interactive videos have been done by digital designers and sound engineers. (Watch two videos at youtu.be/8Z1bi3P1Luc and  youtu.be/qvVc2i4euQY.

At the Boca Raton Museum, Karen L. Maness works on repairing the scenic backdrop from the 1959 MGM film North by Northwest. (Photo courtesy of the Boca Raton Museum)
At the Boca Raton Museum, Karen L. Maness works on repairing the scenic backdrop from the 1959 MGM film North by Northwest. (Photo courtesy of the Boca Raton Museum)

The exhibit is co-curated by two people who were instrumental in salvaging the backdrops from the studios: Assistant Professor of (Art) Practice at the University of Texas at Austin Karen L. Maness who co-author The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop and is Director of the Texas Performing Arts Hollywood Backdrop Collection and multi-award winning  production designer Thomas A. Walsh.

The backstory is that Lynne Coakley, head of J.C. Backings Corporation picked up more than 2,000 backdrops from MGM storage in the 1970s. Coakley then partnered on backdrop protection and education with the Art Directors Guild Archives in 2012 directed by Walsh, then the Guild’s president.

“This show is about the joy of re-living something you grew up with, that you always thought was real. It’s about getting as close to that magical moment in time as you can,” said Walsh in a statement about the show.

He thought visitors will be astonished by the backdrops’ sizes.  “Being in the same space with that giant, familiar scene. It is difficult for people to get their minds around the awesome size of these magical spaces, until they see them in person. People are often shocked and surprised by the scale and visual impact of these massive creations,” he said.

American in Paris backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Art Musuem)
American in Paris backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Art Musuem)

With the aim of preserving the backdrops and making them available for study, Coakley and Walsh launched the Backdrop Recovery Project partnership with J.C. Backings.  A major recipient was the University of Texas’ art department and Maness. About 20 of the backdrops in the exhibit are from the UT collection.

Referring to the North by Northwest backdrop, Maness said, “This is the grandaddy, the Babe Ruth of all Hollywood backdrops…Especially because it was such a key player in the telling of this story.”

According to Maness, just as important as the stories the backdrops tell, is that the exhibit honors the artists who created them. Visitors will be able to see their brush strokes. “This has become my passion project, to tell their stories. I will be their champion in this lifetime” she said.

Warner Brothers scenic artists (ca. 1930). (L-to- R) Verne Strang, Bill McConnell, Frankie Cohen, Charley Wallace, Jack Brooks, James McCann, Emmett Alexander (Ed Strang Collection, from the book The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, by Karen L. Maness and Richard Isackes. (IPhoto courtesy of Maness)
Warner Brothers scenic artists (ca. 1930). (L-to- R) Verne Strang, Bill McConnell, Frankie Cohen, Charley Wallace, Jack Brooks, James McCann, Emmett Alexander (Ed Strang Collection, from the book The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, by Karen L. Maness and Richard Isackes. (IPhoto courtesy of Maness)

Maness who had conducted extensive interviews with the last surviving artists and their families, said in a statement about the exhibit’s importance, “It was essential to capture these artist’s stories before they disappeared.”

In addition to the UT backdrops, “Singin’ in the Rain” and the 1938 tapestry backdrop for “Marie Antoinette” are loaned by the Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles.

The exhibit will have an educational component and presentations. For more information visit at bocamuseum.org/visit/events.

Art Preserve is short travel trip or part of a larger getaway

New Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. ( J Jacobs photo)
New Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. ( J Jacobs photo)

Instead of merely zooming (the old-fashioned sense of the word) in on your fall destination, check out places along the way to stop that you might not get to in a separate trip.

A surprising thing happened as we planned a Door County getaway for October.

Looking at the map ((we use GPS and paper maps) we realized we could break the drive up from Chicago into two destinations with a short stopover in Sheboygan. We know and have been to the American Club in Kohler, but why Sheboygan?

The John Michael Kohler Art Center downtown Sheboygan on New York Avenue has opened an exceptional branch called the Art Preserve over on Lower Falls Road that celebrates intuitive Wisconsin artists. Not only is the building artistic, its contents include large and sometimes full collections from each artist.

P:aintings, jewelry, sculptures and, ceramics are among art collections at the Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. (J Jacobs photo)
P:aintings, jewelry, sculptures and, ceramics are among art collections at the Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. (J Jacobs photo)

I had seen good intuitive exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum so hearing what the Art Preserve would have and that it would open in July I was excited about stopping there on our way to Door County for a fall color trip.

The art work is remarkable!

Fantastical animal sculptures. (J Jacobs photo)

The Art Preserve may seem small on the outside but that is an illusion. The art fills three floors.

Visitors wander around well-placed sculptures and home-made structures that have been taken down and moved there. They then move on to startling paintings on dividers and top notch (I want one) ceramics on tables and in cases. There are also artists’ amazing renderings of animals and people.

Some artists' houses and rooms ar included in the Art Preserve. (A Jacobs photo)
Some artists’ houses and rooms ar included in the Art Preserve. (A Jacobs photo)

To stay within COVID protocols visitors should register their anticipated arrival time before leaving home. Once there, take all the time you want but allow for two hours.

If familiar with the parent museum you probably guessed the bathrooms are tiled with art (yes people go into each).

Bathroom tile (A Jacobs photo)
Bathroom tile (A Jacobs photo)

A good place for lunch is the Café over at the Kohler Art Center where you order at a small counter and the food is brought to your table. My husband and I each had a superb salad.

We spent the day in Sheboygan but it only is about three hours from our destination in Door County so it could have fit into the morning.

However, the Art Preserve is worth a return trip.

The Art P:reserve is at 3636 Lower Falls Road, Sheboygan, WI. find more information at Kohler Art Preserve. The JM Kohler Art Center is at 608 New York Ave., Sheboygan, WI.

Go to van Gogh

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

Put Chicago on the go-to list to experience Immersive Van Gogh.

Yes, the artist is supposed to be spelled Vincent van Gogh with a lower case v but the exhibit doesn’t worry about Van vs van.

After impressing Parisians and folks in Toronto, the exhibit is now the hot ticket in Chicago where it already sold out through March.

Immersive Van Gogh is about color, movement and mood. It is presented in a way so the public will appreciate an artist who died broke and was not valued in his lifetime.

Visitors will hear Mussorgsky’s “Pictures From an Exhibtion.” But they shouldn’t expect to see “Sunflowers,” “The Bedroom in Arles,” “Starry Night” or any self-portrait hung on a wall in its museum frame.

Housed in the Germania Club Building, a just redone landmark at 108 Germania Place on Chicago’s near north side, Immersive Van Gogh totally surrounds visitors with the artist’s famed works.

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

As scenes change, so does accompanying music ranging from Edith Piaf singing “Non, Je ne regrette rien” (I regret nothing)  and choral works to Mussorgsky and a Handel cello suite.

A multi-story, 350 degree art experience, Immersive Van Gogh is in a building  refitted by Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago for it and future exhibitions.

Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults, $24.99 for children 16 or younger. For more information about Immersive Van Gogh visit vangoghchicago.com or call 844-307-4644.

A Wisconsin fall getaway

 

Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)
Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)

Picture a small town where goats on a restaurant roof can cause a traffic jam in a county where visitors to its scenic towns often gather around huge outdoor pots to watch traditional fish boils.

It is Door County, a peninsula that separates the calm waters of Green Bay from turbulent waves of Lake Michigan and where the must-take-home items are chocolate covered cherries or cherry pies and the must-visit time of year is fall.

An easy drive from Green Bay’s airport, the route on the way to the Sturgeon Bay, the first vacation town on the peninsula, is dotted with the crimsons, golds and pinksm of changing leaves. And, as TV ads say, “But wait.” The colors keep intensifying, driving northwest along curving roads through picturesque villages.

Continue reading “A Wisconsin fall getaway”